by Professor Gregory L. Stoller
Christopher Ferrarone, MBA 2004
Carroll School of Management
Rule #1 of Personal Physicians HealthCare:
The Patient Is Always Right
It was 2:37 p.m. The patient in the doctor's waiting room was watching the top stories on CNN Headline News for the fourth time. The volume on the small television kept wavering in and out between bursts of static, making it nearly impossible to hear anything anyway. What about that 1:30 meeting he was supposed to be at right now? Well, he’d canceled it at 1:45. What about that email that he had promised his boss would be sent out by 2:00 "no matter what"? This too would have to wait.
Most galling, he had followed the receptionist's instructions to the letter. The computerized voicemail a few days ago had requested he arrive fifteen minutes early for his 12:30 appointment. He had actually checked in at 12:10, hoping to be seen early and be finished by 1:00 at the latest. That would have enabled him to get back to his office in plenty of time for the meeting.
Instead, he had been forced to wait more than two hours, and this wasn't even the emergency room. "There have been a couple of urgent cases, and we're running behind today," the receptionist had calmly explained, assuring him that the doctor would treat him "as soon as she can." "Please be patient, Sir," she added, as she whipped herself around to answer the phone.
“Patient? What do these people know about patience? If my accountant were two hours late to each of his appointments," he muttered under his breath, "he wouldn't keep any of his clients, even during tax season!"
Finally, at 3:01: "The doctor will see you now." Seventeen minutes later he was back on the road, his sole souvenir of the visit being a hastily written prescription for some medicine he had never heard of. His primary care physician was as nice as always, but had seemed particularly rushed today. In addition, the majority of the consultation had been spent answering routine questions rather than those his wife had specifically requested he write down and bring along.
Christopher Ferrarone prepared this case under the supervision of Boston College Professor Gregory Stoller as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation.
Copyright © 2004, Gregory L. Stoller. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise—without the permission of the writer.
His doctor's parting words had been: "Call the office in a few days to tell me how you're feeling. If I'm not here, leave a message with the front desk or the answering service, and I'll follow up with you by mail when the lab results are in. I'm sure the medicine will do the trick. Say ‘hi’ to your wife for me." *
Drs. Steven Flier and Jordan Busch sat in the Chestnut Hill, MA, office of their new medical practice, Personal Physicians HealthCare (PPHC), discussing the current state of the healthcare industry, ongoing changes they foresaw, and pending legislation they perceived might threaten their business. They were reassured by the vision and purpose of their initiative. All had not come easily in forming this start-up, however, and the road ahead was still potentially fraught with obstacles from a myriad of sources. The idea for PPHC (http://www.personalphysicians.net/) came about from what Flier referred to as a "seminal event" in his medical career. In 2001, he was preparing for a weeklong vacation when, at the last minute, a family obligation required that the trip be canceled. Flier found himself home with nothing on his schedule. So, he decided to sneak into the office and take care of some paperwork. He told himself that he would not talk to the front office and definitely would not see any patients....
Cited: Christine Wiebe, "Boutique Doctors Cater to Patients ' Needs," Medscape Money & Medicine (accessed
Julie Fields, "Entrepreneur Profiles," in New York, Robin J. Phillips, ed. McGraw Hill Companies
May 9, 2001.
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